so after Egypt and a short layover in Bergen, I made my way to Rome to meet a couple friends for a roadtrip around Italy (see itinerary below)
I’ve known those two girls for my entire life but as it happens we’ve been all living in different countries for too long and a reunion was much needed.
So, on December 30th, we all found ourselves in Rome for one night since both Sarah and Judy had been there before. Since it was my first time in Italy, I planned to come back to Rome at the end of the roadtrip for a few days (so more on Rome later!)
The first pitstop of the trip was Napoli for NYE and let me tell you we had a blast. I honestly wasn’t expecting anything too crazy, especially that we don’t know too many people there, but man it’s definitely a night to be remembered especially that we got invited to awesome parties with views of the coast and the town with fireworks that made us all breathless for a second.
We stayed in Napoli for two days and then made our way back to Rome to drop Sarah off at the airport because she had to head back for work and the rest of us took the train up to Florence where we stayed for two days.
Random observations of Italy/ Italian people during that part of the trip:
- Some Italian workers are slow and loud (maybe even as slow and loud as Egyptians)
My first experience with an Italian at a customer service desk for the car rental wasn’t the most friendly experience, and it honestly made me a little worried of what to come. My friend had done all the bookings online as she always does and she had used her credit card along with the info of her international driver’s license to complete the bookings. In Egypt because the local driver’s license is all written in Arabic, you receive a special different one for international driving which is approved in all countries we’ve been to so far, well guess what? It wasn’t approved in Italy, at least not if they don’t get a copy of the local one as well. After half an hour of fighting back and forth in his broken English, the guy decided to cancel the entire reservation and book it in Sarah’s name instead since she had the local one as well. What’s funny about it is that when he took a look at the local driver’s license, he was like “I don’t understand this; how can I copy the number on it?”. Uhmmm that’s what we’ve been telling you for the last 30 minutes? It took him another hour or so to get everything straightened out by which time the Italian lady in the line behind us was yelling at him for being so slow.
- Napoli feels more like Egypt than it does like Italy
Maybe it’s because at that point I hadn’t fully seen Rome yet, or maybe because I didn’t know what to expect, but seriously once we arrived in Napoli it was busy and loud and sometimes dirty and it was a mini culture shock to me because it was my first time in Europe that I had to remind myself that I am actually here instead of back home. Once you got over that initial culture shock, you learn to appreciate the beauty of the city and the little streets that spin around in circles and the crowds in the pedestrian zones.
- The pizza here is as good as they claim
and I’m not necessarily a pizza fan, but some of that dough is just way too delicious. Guess Julia Roberts was right in “Eat, Pray, Love”
- Termini station in Rome is one scary place
This was literally my least favorite part of the trip. When we dropped Sarah off in Rome, we also had to book our train tickets to Florence, and because we’re just the luckiest people on earth, the network for the train bookings was down at every counter and every machine in the entire station except a couple, so you found yourself in a line of 100+ people waiting for hours to buy a stupid ticket. We divided ourselves between two counters to not waste too much time, and after an hour or so of waiting, it was my turn. I had already seen how the machines behaved with the people in front of me. It never worked the first time. People would have to wait for the machine to refresh at every screen or to stop freezing. Sometimes some would enter the money and think they’ve got the ticket only for the screen to display an error message and give them their money back and to make them restart the process. So when it was my turn I knew it wouldn’t be easy. The machine took my money twice and gave it back to me and then at a point the network was down and I had to wait 15 more minutes. Of course Sarah and I decided to just stay by the machine until it restarts. I mean we’ve been in line for an hour, we deserved our spot.
Then, out of nowhere this crazy Italian chick comes over and yells at us in Italian. Guess she doesn’t understand the concept of “Network down” and even with me not speaking Italian I understood that she thinks that it’s our fault and that she thinks if we enter any other destination the network would somehow magically work. I tried to explain to her that I don’t speak Italian but when she started yelling at me in Italian, I started doing the same in English. Not that she understood me, but at this point it just felt good to yell haha. And to just let her feel better, I let the people in line behind me try their destination only to *surprise surprise* realize that the machine wouldn’t work for them either. Just thinking of it 2 weeks later still pisses me off. Anyways, 30 minutes later we were finally able to get our tickets and got the heck out of that station. You can imagine my feelings towards Italy and Rome at this point of the trip. I didn’t fall in love with this country and even my awesome NYE experience had been forgotten at this point, but it was all about to change once we hit our next pitstop.
Next time: Florence and more!